Ross McGuinnessMon, 22 March 2021, 1:06 pm·4-min read
The decision by EU leaders to pause the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has “hugely damaged” public trust in the jab across the continent, a shocking new poll shows.
In some major countries – including Germany, France and Spain – more people now think the vaccine is unsafe than safe.
Many nations temporarily suspended their rollouts of the vaccine earlier this month over fears of a link to blood clots, but countries including Germany, France, Spain and Italy have since all said they would resume their programmes after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) called it “safe and effective”.
But the YouGov survey of more than 8,800 people in seven countries seems to indicate that the damage to public trust has already been done, with 61% of French people, 55% of Germans, 52% of Spaniards and 43% of Italians all saying they believe the jab is unsafe.
In the UK, where the national regulator has always insisted there is no link between the jab and blood clots, only 9% of people say it isn’t safe.
Watch: European regulator says AstraZeneca vaccine is safe 1:19 2:16 European regulator: AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effectiveScroll back up to restore default view.
Matthew Smith, head of data journalism at YouGov, tweeted the information in what he called “the stupidist, stupidist, stupidest chart I have ever made”, and accused EU nations’ leaders of an “abject failure of leadership”.
“The decision by many countries, including many EU nations, suspending use of the AstraZeneca vaccine following concerns that it could cause blood clots, has hugely damaged public perceptions of the vaccine’s safety in Europe,” said Smith.
At least 13 countries stopped using the AstraZeneca jab in the past two weeks, but several resumed their programmes on Friday after the EMA called it “safe and effective” in a preliminary report last week, echoing the view of the World Health Organization.